Saturday, October 13, 2012

BW42: Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
The 3rd book in Susan Wise's Bauer's Well Educated Mind list of fiction reads is Gulliver's Travels. A satirical novel once known as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships.  A mouthful, yes.

CHAPTER I.

The author gives some account of himself and family.  His first inducements to travel.  He is shipwrecked, and swims for his life.  Gets safe on shore in the country of Lilliput; is made a prisoner, and carried up the country.

My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of five sons.  He sent me to Emanuel College in Cambridge at fourteen years old, where I resided three years, and applied myself close to my studies; but the charge of maintaining me, although I had a very scanty allowance, being too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice to Mr. James Bates, an eminent surgeon in London, with whom I continued four years.  My father now and then sending me small sums of money, I laid them out in learning navigation, and other parts of the mathematics, useful to those who intend to travel, as I always believed it would be, some time or other, my fortune to do.  When I left Mr. Bates, I went down to my father: where, by the assistance of him and my uncle John, and some other relations, I got forty pounds, and a promise of thirty pounds a year to maintain me at Leyden: there I studied physic two years and seven months, knowing it would be useful in long voyages.

Soon after my return from Leyden, I was recommended by my good master, Mr. Bates, to be surgeon to the Swallow, Captain Abraham Pannel, commander; with whom I continued three years and a half, making a voyage or two into the Levant, and some other parts.  When I came back I resolved to settle in London; to which Mr. Bates, my master, encouraged me, and by him I was recommended to several patients.  I took part of a small house in the Old Jewry; and being advised to alter my condition, I married Mrs. Mary Burton, second daughter to Mr. Edmund Burton, hosier, in Newgate-street, with whom I received four hundred pounds for a portion.

But my good master Bates dying in two years after, and I having few friends, my business began to fail; for my conscience would not suffer me to imitate the bad practice of too many among my brethren.  Having therefore consulted with my wife, and some of my acquaintance, I determined to go again to sea.  I was surgeon successively in two ships, and made several voyages, for six years, to the East and West Indies, by which I got some addition to my fortune.  My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.

The last of these voyages not proving very fortunate, I grew weary of the sea, and intended to stay at home with my wife and family.  I removed from the Old Jewry to Fetter Lane, and from thence to Wapping, hoping to get business among the sailors; but it would not turn to account.  After three years expectation that things would mend, I accepted an advantageous offer from Captain William Prichard, master of the Antelope, who was making a voyage to the South Sea.  We set sail from Bristol, May 4, 1699, and our voyage was at first very prosperous.

It would not be proper, for some reasons, to trouble the reader with the particulars of our adventures in those seas; let it suffice to inform him, that in our passage from thence to the East Indies, we were driven by a violent storm to the north-west of Van Diemen’s Land.  By an observation, we found ourselves in the latitude of 30 degrees 2 minutes south.  Twelve of our crew were dead by immoderate labour and ill food; the rest were in a very weak condition.  On the 5th of November, which was the beginning of summer in those parts, the weather being very hazy, the seamen spied a rock within half a cable’s length of the ship; but the wind was so strong, that we were driven directly upon it, and immediately split.  Six of the crew, of whom I was one, having let down the boat into the sea, made a shift to get clear of the ship and the rock.  We rowed, by my computation, about three leagues, till we were able to work no longer, being already spent with labour while we were in the ship.

We therefore trusted ourselves to the mercy of the waves, and in about half an hour the boat was overset by a sudden flurry from the north.  What became of my companions in the boat, as well as of those who escaped on the rock, or were left in the vessel, I cannot tell; but conclude they were all lost.  For my own part, I swam as fortune directed me, and was pushed forward by wind and tide.  I often let my legs drop, and could feel no bottom; but when I was almost gone, and able to struggle no longer, I found myself within my depth; and by this time the storm was much abated.  The declivity was so small, that I walked near a mile before I got to the shore, which I conjectured was about eight o’clock in the evening.  I then advanced forward near half a mile, but could not discover any sign of houses or inhabitants; at least I was in so weak a condition, that I did not observe them.

I was extremely tired, and with that, and the heat of the weather, and about half a pint of brandy that I drank as I left the ship, I found myself much inclined to sleep.  I lay down on the grass, which was very short and soft, where I slept sounder than ever I remembered to have done in my life, and, as I reckoned, about nine hours; for when I awaked, it was just day-light.  I attempted to rise, but was not able to stir: for, as I happened to lie on my back, I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground; and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same manner.  I likewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my arm-pits to my thighs.  I could only look upwards; the sun began to grow hot, and the light offended my eyes.  I heard a confused noise about me; but in the posture I lay, could see nothing except the sky.  In a little time I felt something alive moving on my left leg, which advancing gently forward over my breast, came almost up to my chin; when, bending my eyes downwards as much as I could, I perceived it to be a human creature not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at his back........

 Gulliver's Travels can be read online Here,or  here, or listen to it online here.

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5 comments:

  1. just finished The Barefoot Running Book by Jason Robillard.

    That's three weeks in a row that my first book of the week is running related. I need to find something else now ;-)

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  2. I learned to love Gulliver's Travels. It is amazing how many things in our culture today from from that book.

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  3. I just linked a totally practical book. We planted garlic today using Growing Great Garlic, and I'm so excited!

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  4. Recently discovered James Patterson's "Women's Murder Club" series - where have I been?!

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  5. Just discovered a new theme for fairy tales and modern lit: missing fathers. Dan Walsh deals with it beautifully in The Reunion.

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